Gene Faelnar: Back on track
He was touted as the “future of motocross in Cebu” 15 years ago. Yes, award-winning athlete Gene Faelnar was on top of his game. But things got out of hand: a long bout with substance abuse took a toll on him.
And then, three years ago, things started to get better: the “bad boy of motocross” has taken on the smaller wheel minus the fossilized fuel to push him but his passion. He founded Cebu Mountainbike Adventure that introduces mountain bikers to unexplored trails around the world from the reef up to the river and to the ridge.
What started out as “sharing the love of the outdoor” sport to just pure tour-guiding (camping out in the mountains of Cebu) to opening the first bike spa in the country and a bike cafe in his abode at Guadalupe is something that fell on his lap slowly but surely.
Today, he busies himself with preparations for the first Mountain Biking Festival—the Jamaican Nights of Mountain Bikers—happening this summer.
Tell us about your turnaround to wellness.
There’s an article that says “biking is the new golf” because ‘di ba golf is both physical and a little business engagement. Ang biking… from the security guard to the lawyer, even the doctor or contractor, magkuyog in one trail. There’s no discrimination. We even have one wherein a manager and their security guard would engage in a discussion about biking. It’s really amusing.
What got you into biking?
I don’t know why I am so into two-wheels. Maybe because of outside influence when I was still young. I also can’t do running because I have knee injuries. Dili sad ko makadagan pataas because most of my injuries sa motocross naa sa left-side.
How was the journey from being a motocross rider up to now that you are a wellness-in-biking enthusiast?
I love the adrenaline rush. I was always a health buff. I don’t even drink soft drink, I don’t smoke, and I would only have iced tea during gatherings. And there came a point nga tungod sa ka-grabe sa adrenaline, magpangita na ko and maundang so dili na ko makatulog. I started taking downers. Na-hook gyud ko for 17 years. I was an addict. Then again, I think there’s this strength left in me being an athlete, so I submitted myself to rehab—dili ko mauwaw ana.
I was treated in rehab for a year and pagbalik nako nawala gyud tanan— akong trabaho, akong kwarta, pero ang akong mga maayo nga amigo naa lang gihapon.
How did you break the “happy-go-lucky-doesn’t-lead-you-anywhere” persona?
I read a lot of books. Sige man ko ug basa og Zig Zieglar, “Rich Dad Poor Dad” as well as “The Cashflow Quadrant,” “ 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. And John Maxwell books.
Has spirituality changed you?
When I got out of rehab, I attended my uncle’s ministry of the Living Word. Lagot bitaw ko maminaw nga hisgutan ko og drugs. Some would say nga dugay na daw wala sila ana. Ako 16 years old hangtud 34, I got out year 2010, pero wala na ko nibalik.
Certainly, you’ve heard of the notion “once an addict, always an addict”?
It’s just a justification of someone who’s still an addict. Kapoy kaayo na because mo-gamay imong world. I started 1994, pagamay-gamay lang, from twice a month, to once a month and eventually daily na siya and mo-mahal. So I also resulted to injection and also did cough syrup. It was hard to get it out of my system and I went through a lot in rehab… they tied both my arms and legs, I also cleaned dirty bowl using just my hands. And it does get to me because I was the former executive commissioner for sports.
Also, my daddy (Eugenio “Jingjing” Faelnar) was anti-drugs, as well as Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president, unya ingon ana iyang anak.
So, how did you fight it?
I really fought it. I was able to mend my relationship with my parents. My mom is very supportive and she helps out in the setup here. And my daddy is proud because he sees that there’s a growing thousands of us that’s now into biking. Mga pamilya sa iyang amigo nakaila ug nakahibaw naman sa among setup diri.
Did you then consider biking as an “escape” route?
This is my passion man gyud. I am always clear with what I want. Kahibaw lang gyud ko sa akong gusto pero wala ko kahibaw unsaon. If you see sa akong FB, I have a wish list pag 2012 and somehow all of it are realized hinay-hinay. I have always wanted to have my own house and now I have a little shelter up there in the mountains. I also looked forward to owning a Hummer… a Sportage will have to do now. Before, sige ko og pakyaw og jeep for my trekkers and it’s really pricey, so the need for a truck. And one morning a truck that I really wanted was parked outside our house. It was the exact vehicle I wanted so I took a picture of it, visualized it with my bikes and with hard work eventually it’s there.
What are the attributes of a good mountain biker?
You’ve got to love nature as well as be a people-person. Attitude, mainly a good attitude—because if you are so negative and you’re on training you will not make it.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you now?
Maikog man sab gud ko kung moingon ko ug 10 gud. Maybe nine. Ganahan lang gyud ko sa feeling nga wala’y labot ang kwarta ba.
How do you see yourself in the biking industry in the near future?
My vision is for Cebu to become the adventure capital of the Philippines… Or be the biking capital of the Philippines, and for now, it’s the municipality of Danao here in Cebu that has that title. Pero if you look at the trails that Cebu has, it can be at par… accessibility, the view, not to mention the job opportunities for the people—we have one here whose family is mag-uuling and now they are with us sa construction.
Name one person you look up to?
My daddy because he has reached this stage in life that’s very established. He was left to his aunt when he was two years old by his parents, he was a college dropout and yet presidentiables listen to him. Once, when he was ABC president, while waiting for Lito Osmeña, there also came in Renato De Villa and they talked. For him to have these people around means they respect him. My parents are amazing. And my mom only reached third year high school.
Do you have any regrets?
Dili man ko maabot diri kung dili pa adtong mga nanghitabo. Kung pabalikon ko, minus-minusan na lang nako. Hahaha!
Are there there other endeavors that you would like to get into?
For someone who is a biker, also mountaineer and is free-spirited, I hate the pressure. Dili man sab ko bagay for politics though I am a people person. I think akong igsoon lang ang mas maayo sa ana nga field. I am setting my sights though on Hilly Land Development Board, it’s a committee formed in City Hall from which tanan activities sa tanang mountain barangays moagi ana nga board. I can be a good member since I am there in most barangays. Not only have I been to these places, I have also gotten to know the people.
What are your thoughts before you hit the sack?
How can I better myself as a person? Unsa pa ba ng angay nakong makat-onan?
If you were to write a book about your life, what would the title be?
“The Power of Good Vibes.”
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